NUJP- Davao statement on the Massacre in Maguindanao

Nov. 30, 2009

That one of the suspects in the Ampatuan massacre is already in the hands of the authorities calls for all of us to be more aggressive in seeking justice for the gruesome death of 57 innocent victims, including many of our colleagues.

Together let us challenge a government—that over the years nurtured the culture of violence and impunity to the very core of the political system— to end what it allowed to flourish in the midst of a society hungry for justice.

The public knowledge that the government is very much indebted to the powers-that-be in Maguindanao makes us question whether justice will indeed be served to the 57 people, 21 of them women, who died at the hands of those whose greed for power and money turned them into beasts.

These are trying times for members of the Philippine press. These are trying times for Filipinos. The horror that met the victims is unspeakable. The atrocities were, no less, a clear handiwork of beasts.

Our colleagues went to the area to follow a significant political development. We salute them for braving to walk a territory where the cloak of impunity is worn by the powers-that-be almost always next to their skin.

In so doing, they tested the limits of press freedom and democracy in the country, mistakenly believing they still work.

Sadly, they are gone now.

The thing that confounds us, and which continue to force disbelief on us to this day is that it could have happened to any one of us.

Already, we feel the shock taking its toll on our ranks.

It does not help that the government has not earnestly come to the situation and show some teeth.

But maybe, we are asking too much.

After all, we have seen the inutility of this government against media killings. We have seen the impunity it tries to tolerate, given its record in breeding warlords under the decay of political patronage.

Clearly, we can say this government has starkly failed in terms of restoring the sense of security among its people at the time it is most needed.

It is not addressing the situation right. It has compounded the problem by creating a situation which we see, will not effect the dismantling of this culture of impunity, but would only tend to reinforce it.

We believe a state of emergency is unnecessary and inappropriate. What the government should have done is allow proper authorities to investigate the crime, let them do what they ought to do, and do them right.

Militarizing a place, as a result of this declaration spawns an atmosphere that will not augur well for the democratic participation of the people, the best way by which the dark claws of authoritarianism could be effectively fought.

But what can you make out of a government that could not be sincere in the first place, a government that owes its power not to the people, but to those it is politically beholden to for its survival?

We dream of a time when can report free from danger. But we guess, that is just too much too ask for, for now.

We have come to a point, believing, that if we want to attain justice, it becomes imperative that with our collective strength, we should move to shake up a government that no longer works for its people.

We demand justice for the victims now!

We demand punishment of the perpetrators now!

Journalists, UNITE!  FIGHT for press freedom and democracy!

For reference:

Jeffrey M. Tupas
Secretary General
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines – Davao Chapter (NUJP-Davao)

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